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Mindful and Thankful of our Journey for Wildlife

With just a month or so to go before another year closes out, the team at the IWRC have been reflecting on our past couple of years’ accomplishments which are accelerating year on year. Front of mind is that none of our work is possible without the generosity of our supporters around the globe, and equally, that all of our work should be accessible, for all wildlife professionals, around the globe.

 

Sincere thanks to all our members and industry supporters who recognise the value of the education we provide and believe in our mission; to provide evidence-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to move the field of wildlife rehabilitation forward; to promote wildlife conservation and welfare; and to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts worldwide, through the better understanding of wild animal ecology, behavior and welfare. By joining us you help to elevate our organization's credibility which symbiotically helps us to generate funds to deliver current, relevant and informative education material.  

 

Over the last 2 years we have seen a rise in demand and here are a few wonderful stats over the last few years;

  • 1300 members across 23 countries now utilise our Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation
  • 1495 books ranging from animal behaviour, wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife nutrition, wildlife medical care, wildlife parasitology were delivered to professionals in 2018.
  • 35 classes in basic wildlife rehab, pain and wound management, oil spill volunteering, parasitology, reuniting raptors, and zoonoses were delivered to 885 students in 5 countries.

 

As we move into 2020 we aim to start reaching out to the broader community, those not actively engaged with wildlife on a daily basis yet who are compassionate toward the work we do. Individuals and corporations who care about raising the standards within wildlife rehabilitation and are as excited as we are about making evidenced-based wildlife education accessible to more corners of the globe, for more humans and in turn for more animals.

 

Our field is constantly evolving and we see firsthand how science based information makes positive change for wildlife. We stand firm in supporting the protection and conservation of endangered wildlife and aim to prevent non endangered species from becoming threatened. 

 

Wherever and however you engaged with us this past year, either through taking a course, joining or renewing your membership, approving a grant, signing a cheque, creating a fundraiser, or donating time to volunteer, we thank you for joining us on this journey, as we continue to generate the funds, to improve Wildlife Care Worldwide.  

 

Suzanne Pugh

On behalf of the Development Committee and Board of Directors.

Wildlife Disease Association 68th Annual International Conference (Part 3)

The following is the third in a short series of posts from IWRC staff and board members who attended the WDA Conference at Granlibakken Resort in Tahoe City, California USA in August 2019

 

Multiple-drug resistance in wildlife

From the 2019 Wildlife Disease Association Conference, several presentations gave great cause for worry. The number of documented multi-antibiotic resistant infections in wildlife is increasingly more serious. Anthropogenic exposure is causing never-treated wildlife to host serious pathogens that will require specialized and aggressive antibiotic therapy; these organisms also could endanger rehabilitators and staff.

Wildlife as diverse as the kodkod, also called güiña (Leopardus guingna) in Chile and the California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) in California have microbial flora with multiple antibiotic resistance, reflecting the urban and agricultural environments in which they live.

Irene Sacristan and her team investigated antibiotic resistance genes in the güiña in Chile. PCR testing was used to identify genes associated with antimicrobial resistance; and since these genes are considered to be environmental contaminants, the results could be used to compare anthropogenic impact. The felines most exposed to human disturbance had the highest drug-resistant genes (including MRSA), but even pristine environments showed influence. The use of affordable PCR testing will become more and more important to diagnosis and characterization of diseases in our wildlife, and rehabilitators should be ready and educated for the time it actually happens.

Peter Sebastian and his team at UC Davis working with California condors examined cloacal E. coli (Escherichia coli) patterns of multiple-drug microbial resistance. The variation in the E. coli resistance depended upon the food source, and it is possible that those birds feeding on livestock carcasses may reflect antimicrobial resistance in livestock; and thereby environmental contamination.

Herring gull at the Truth or Consequences Landfill, Sierra Co., NM, 110127. (Larus argentatus) "CAB00669a" by jerryoldenettel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Gulls in Alaska were shown to have multiple-drug antimicrobial resistance when their E. coli genome was sequenced. Christina Ahlstrom and collaborators found that trash-dump birds traveled locally and, by satellite tracking, were shown to travel as far south as southern California and East Asia. The potential of acquisition and dispersal of multi-drug resistant E. coli has many ramifications for human, environmental and animal health.

Marine mammals of the Salish Sea are being evaluated for multiple-drug resistant E. coli by Stephanie Norman and her collaborators. Seals and porpoises are showing evidence of such, and studies are on-going.

It is a lesson to all of us in wildlife rehabilitation to base antibiotic use on evidence: bacterial culture and antibiotic sensitivity should direct treatment, rather than just reaching for that vial of "xyz" for every animal. And a reminder that wildlife from urban and agricultural areas are highly likely to have resistant infections even if they never had antibiotics ever in their life! It is also a lesson for wildlife rehabilitators to collect good data and so contribute to research, disease survey and surveillance. And speaking of good data: every wildlife rehabber is important and can contribute significantly to both specific and overall knowledge bases. Early detection of disease or issues is at the doorstep of first-responder wildlife careers. Who are the boots-on-the-ground in the beginning of an outbreak, mortality, stranding, poisoning or other event? Several speakers mentioned the value of biologist/One-Health/disease surveillance collaborations with wildlife rehabilitation centers. It was gratifying to hear that the disease professionals value contributions from our community.

Pox viruses (Poxviridae) are an important disease for rehabilitators to understand. Amanda MacDonald and her team investigated pox viruses and found that different pox isolates are restricted to different taxa, but sporadic and evolving strains have the potential to infect more than one species. This information of extreme importance to managing outbreaks. For the rehabilitators, knowing these facts will help with bio-security and isolation policies.

Vaccine news
White-nose syndrome gross lesion; multi-factor presentation

A lot is happening on the wildlife vaccine front. Real progress has been made on a White-nose syndrome with an oral, mass application carrier-virus vaccine for bats, and gives hope to the eventual protection of threatened populations and hibernacula.

Investigation into an effective oral formulation of anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) vaccine may be a good approach to protect wildlife in anthrax-endemic areas. Allison Fricht from Texas A&M University discussed the development of an oral anthrax vaccine for ruminants, wildlife and livestock. This is an important development to protect animals in regions where anthrax is endemic. The problem with ruminants is their many stomachs will denature oral vaccines and render them inactive or digested. Having a formulation that can be incorporated into feed or forage is a great advancement.

Vaccine trials in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) with a tick vaccine show promise in controlling tick infestations in Spain, as described by presenter Isabel García Fernández de Mera.

Herps

Reptiles and amphibians were well-represented, with some great presentations on very frightening emerging and new diseases. Rehabbers especially in the southeast USA, but in reality, all across the globe, should be on the look-out for unusual oral and skin lesions in their herps. The diagnostic trail can usually start with a simple swab and finding the right lab. Fungal lesions are increasingly common, and some of the amphibian diseases thought to be ONLY in salamanders are now known to have the potential to infect anurans (frogs and toads). And sadly many of the novel diseases are likely related to the pet trade and trafficking, and “exotic” disease can appear anywhere and cause epidemics in local fauna.

Bunyavirus in turtles (softshells and cooters) - oral lesions and ulcers and plaques on other soft tissues along with severe internal organ lesions were examined by Lisa Shender and her team along the St. Johns River in Florida, USA. They discovered an underlying, new virus affecting all of them. The infection is similar and the virus is identical to one found in farmed turtles a number of years ago. Lethal new and emerging diseases are a serious threat to any vulnerable species and chelonians in general are under great threat and pressure.

It may seem esoteric, but having tissue culture cell lines from amphibians and reptiles is absolutely essential for detecting and diagnosis of diseases. Cell lines are very difficult from herps, and for many years there were only a handful of them in existence. Cell cultures are used especially in viral diseases and difficult parasites and demanding bacteria. Tracy Logan and her research team at the University of Florida were able to develop a number of lines that will be integral to diagnosis in herp diseases.

Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans image from a Ghent University (Belgium) study published in 2015  "File:Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, clinical signs and pathology.jpg" by Cimbail is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Truly horrifying and associated with climate change and animal trafficking and the exotic pet trade: serious, fatal fungal diseases. The chytrid fungus is well-known for debilitating disease in frogs and toads, but the Bsal (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) chytrid, infecting salamanders in Europe, may appear in the New World at any time. A team from the University of Tennessee looked into the possibility that Bsal not only could infect salamanders but potentially could spill over into frogs and toads. The animals developed typical lesions. This fungus could represent a serious threat to non-salamanders. Both this fungus and the other chytrid mycotic diseases in amphibians have been associated with legal and illegal trafficking of amphibians for the pet trade. Rehabbers should be alert to amphibian diseases, take appropriate samples, submit for testing, and be prepared for and assume all are highly contagious until proven otherwise.

Nicola Peterson and team from Australia were involved in a real-life detective story, tracing severe fungal disease in water dragons (Physignathus). Until very recently, mixed fungal diseases were described only from captive/pet animals. A recent outbreak in a city park is now confirmed from multiple locations. There is evidence that the original “patient zero” was a sick pet that was witnessed being released into the park. More reason than ever for rehabilitators to be vigilant, be aware that the pet trade adversely impacts wild populations, and to be prepared for multiple layers of diagnosis.

Hair!

Hair samples can be analyzed via spectrometry to reveal health status of populations. Hair is easy to collect, store, archive and identify. Jesper Moshbacher and many international collaborators analyzed trace elements from muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) and showed that hair analysis was practical and useful tool, especially in remote and infrequently sampled regions.

Several talks concerned sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei) outbreaks, which may have become a global crisis. From South America to California.

A team from the University of California Davis monitored a small population of endangered San Joaquin kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica) and described potential routes of infection, den climate favorable to the mites, and proposed possible control measures. Another team from California Department of Fish & Wildlife compared various canid hosts and the genetic make-up of their mites, to determine if coyotes, foxes and dogs could be involved. They found the mites to be host specific and recommended treatment focusing on the kit foxes.

Chlamydia

Some frightening news has come out of California and Australia. Chlamydia infections are quite complicated and more sophisticated testing may be required. Not all Chlamydia are the same and novel species have been found in in native pigeon species and in raptors.

Chlamydia species in native parrots, people and chickens can flow in all directions...

Helena Stokes and her team from Deakin University in Australia have found that infection by “regular” Chlamydia species in native parrots, people, and chickens can flow in all directions, with all pathogens and affect the host species in different ways. A lot more work needs to be done, including testing for novel species of Chlamydia.

Michelle Hawkins lead an investigation into characterizing and describing a new species of Chlamydia associated with severe disease in raptor species in California. It may be important to test sick birds for chlamydia by PCR and in addition request genome sequencing. Collaboration with investigators could be valuable.

Climate change

It was nice to hear from the world of invertebrates. We rehabbers may be asked to gain skills with invertebrate care and release in the near future, as climate crisis impacts more biodiversity. Ania Majewska from the University of Georgia investigated the protozoan parasites in Monarch butterflies in relation to urbanization.

Having been a fan of @WhiteAbalone since they started their Twitter account, I was thrilled to attend Blythe Marshman’s talk on white abalone (Haliotis sorenseni), an endangered species, and the rickettsial withering Syndrome. The presentation tied together the impact of overfishing, stress, changing water temperatures, and pathogen interactions. The care and compassion shown for the animals in their care was very inspiring.

Environmental conditions that favor algal overgrowth can be related to mass casualties in waterbirds. Corinne Gibble and her co-authors showed the brain pathology associated with both acute and sub-lethal toxin exposure.

Winner of the most uncomfortable award:
Nasopulmonary acariasis (Halarachne sp.) in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

Colleen Shockling from Columbus Humane made a lot of the attendees squirm in their seats with descriptions and photos of nasal mites in southern sea otters.  (NCBI link here) © 2019 The Authors - This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Tick world

Vectors and vectors-borne infections were the subject of a number of the talks. Francisco Ruiz-Fons and his team investigated Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) associated with ticks of the genus Hyalomma and red deer (Cervus elaphus) in southern Europe. This virus represents a possible threat to hunters and other humans who handle the animals (rehabilitators, veterinarians, etc). The disease may be widespread and rehabilitators should be aware of ticks, tick bites, and animals suffering from vector-borne disease.

Climate change and human activities may be influencing the distribution of ticks and their pathogens. In Norway, Carlos das Neves sampled many species of ungulates for hepatitis E and tick-borne encephalitis virus, both of which can infect humans and livestock, and demonstrated ungulates as valuable sentinels for early detection of emerging disease.

Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) in upland game birds was detected in wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), and American woodcock (Scolopax minor) from Pennsylvania, USA, and Christopher Cleveland from University of Georgia suggested these species may act as a reservoir for Lyme disease and the tick vector diseases.

Speaking of vectors, West Nile virus may be implicated in declining population numbers of the ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus). Climate conditions may become more favorable to mosquito vectors. Julie Menotti with Michigan Department of Natural Resources and her team investigated the presence of West Nile virus in dead and ill birds and recommended further studies. A study from Pennsylvania presented by Dominica Dec Peevy from Penn State covered landscape and mosquito characteristics and how they may influence risk factors for West Nile epidemics.

Anticoagulant rodenticide exposure in bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in the United States

Sub-lethal exposure to rodenticides is common in bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), as reported by Kevin Niedringhaus. Exposure was detected in about 83% of golden eagles and 76% bald eagles, but mortality was about 4%. The effects on the population, and on individual birds, needs to be evaluated. As rehabilitators, you may be able to record exposure levels and contribute valuable data to the ongoing inquiry. We know, in other species, that sub-lethal exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides can have drastic impact on individual animals, and the more data we gather, the more we can assess and mitigate the impact.

An exciting study on post-release monitoring in hummingbirds using RFID (radio-frequency identification) might inspire some creativity. Ruta Bandivadekar from the University of California, Davis described a study of hummingbirds in rehabilitation and what methodologies impacted survivability. Post-release monitoring was integral to the study, and showed that RFID and PIT tags can contribute significant value to the available data.

Moral of the story, WDA 2019: we are a team!

Collaborations are incredibly important, valued, and sought. Wildlife rehabilitators can contribute directly to the knowledge base of wildlife disease and should be active partners in investigations.

The study of wildlife disease has matured and evolved. In order to implement effective solutions policy-makers, community leaders, sociologists, socio-economic experts, economists and other experts need to be engaged and invited onto teams. Discovering and describing diseases should be based on impeccable scientific inquiry, but successful implementation of change, mitigation of problems, and practical solutions will require outside help. Wildlife health workers must not be afraid of engaging outside experts and pushing their own comfort zones. Teamwork, engagement, and empowerment of professional networks, local communities, and colleagues is the only way that we will all mitigate the current climate crisis and anthropogenic catastrophe. Wildlife rehabilitators need to embrace scientific method, sharing, and collaboration in order to protect the precious creatures and environments we love; and to which we owe a debt and duty.

- Pat Latas, board member

Wildlife Disease Association 68th Annual International Conference

The following is the first in a short series of posts from IWRC staff and board members who attended the WDA Conference at Granlibakken Resort in Tahoe City, California USA in August 2019

A wildlife lovers dream; a 15 minute stroll from Granlibakken to downtown Tahoe City

I’ve recently returned home from the 2019 Wildlife Disease Association Conference, my first one. I highly recommend this meeting to any academic or disease minded rehabilitator (2020 Spain, 2021 Madison, 2022 Georgia, 2023 Australia). The first keynote, by Dr Pieter Johnson focused on community ecology as a tool for understanding parasite interactions and anticipating disease risk. Traditionally these scientific ways of thinking had little overlap. This talk set an excellent conference tone of collaboration across artificial boundaries and a true One Health view of the world.

The attendees were diverse in field, location, language, and age. I was able to spend time with IWRC staff (Julissa), board (Brooke Durham, Mandy Kamps, Pat Latas), members (several!), and instructor (Rob Adamski) and our NWRA colleagues. I was also able to meet with rehabilitators from South Korea (전북야생동물센터 Jeonbuk Wildlife Center) and Chile (Refugio Animal Cascada) researchers in South Sudan, Bangladesh, India, Norway, and Australia, and bend the ear of regulators in several countries about the benefits of wildlife rehabilitation.

Integrating wildlife rehabilitation data for early and enhanced detection of health threats

It wasn’t just me talking about wildlife rehabilitation, though I certainly did enough of that in the corridors and at meals. Several speakers wove wildlife rehabilitation into their talks, even more obtained data from animals brought in to wildlife rehabilitation. Most thrilling was the work that Terra Kelly, Pranav Pandit and their team did, collaborating with WRMD to create a first of its kind early alert system. With buy-in from multiple California rehabilitators, they integrated with the data wildlife rehabilitators were already entering to see trends in disease that spanned beyond a single rehabilitator. Imagine, 2 murres here, 5 there, another 6 over there, and pretty soon a pattern emerges (or doesn’t).

Wildlife rehabilitation centers are “uniquely poised to advance knowledge of threats to wildlife health and populations"

-Pranav Pandit

My takeaway from the 2019 Wildlife Disease Association Conference “Fostering Resiliency in a Time of Change” was that we need a true One Health approach to disease management for the good of all species, and that wildlife rehabilitation must be a player on the ‘big stage’ of global health.

- Kai Williams, Executive Director 

Spotlight on new board member Deborah Galle!

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship with wildlife.  

As a child, I LOVED wildlife. I would find toads, salamanders, snakes, bumble bees and hold them all! I was fascinated by their behaviors and could watch them for hours. When I was about 7 years old, I would visit two swans across the street - my home was in an area with a large marsh and wooded area. I would whistle for them and the pair would fly in with a big swoosh. They even allowed me near their nesting area and would approach me as I sat on the seawall and playfully nip at my sneaker tips. I never touched them, I simply watched them for hours. When I was about 8 years old, I brought a snake home and convinced my mother that I needed her/him for my science project. She allowed me to keep the snake for several weeks until the project was completed. The snake would sit in my hand and wrap around my fingers. Unfortunately, my Uncle came by and identified her/him as a baby Copperhead. I begged him for a 10-minute head start before telling my mother, so I could run out to the marsh and woods to release her/him, safely! The snake never attempted to bite me.

I wanted to be a veterinarian from the time I learned to say the word!

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?  

I became a member of the IWRC after seeing them at my first NWRA Symposium. I Purchased the Book Wildlife Rehabilitation: A Comprehensive Approach, and found it to be easier reading than the NWRA manual. I have served on the CWRA Board of Directors for a number of years. I have considered submitting an application to the NWRA or IWRC but was on the fence about which one. I will most likely relocate out of state at some point and I was looking for a responsible organization to continue to serve. I believe the IWRC is emerging as a viable (and valuable) resource for wildlife rehabilitators. The IWRC won out over the NWRA, although I appreciate both organizations, immensely!

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

Increasing the demographic of the IWRC and the continuation of the dissemination of accurate information,  as we learn more about wildlife and that information changes.

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

My communications training has been a huge asset. Client service skills were developed during my time in retail management. I was fortunate to have been a communications and benefits manager for Time Warner. This allowed me to hone my skills as an educator, coach and presenter. These skills enable me to assist other rehabilitators and the community with regard to wildlife (Put the rabbit back!).

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

I can learn anything. That is why my professional experience covers an array of industries. The most significant accomplishment would have to be my transition from retail into corporate. I had all of the skills for retail and almost none of the technical skills required for Corporate. I was sent on a “practice” interview and met with a VP of Human Resources. After the interview, I was to report back to the temp agency and they would compare notes with the VP. The VP requested me as her new temp employee and argued with the temp agency who had the client’s interest in mind and wanted a good match. The VP won and I began working for her. Two weeks later, Time Warner purchased the company. I completed my temp assignment and was contacted by Time Inc.’s VP of HR who requested that I take on another temp assignment implementing a new call center during open enrollment that year. Once completed they refused to let me go and I was promoted several times during the next 10 years. It was a great place to work during those years!

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?  

I appreciate all of the Board members, but I know I asked whether Dani would be available. I was delighted when she agreed to be my mentor!

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?

Wildlife or Forensic Biologist.

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

Owl

What is the thing for which you have waited in line the longest?

Concert tickets - Bruce Springsteen

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

Knowing that I will be travelling to see my family!

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

I have a 10 lb rabbit named Ollie. He is nine years old and a big love. He loves to simply hang out and take in whatever is going on around him.

I share a couple of rabbits with friends because mine was boarded and bonded with their pets. It did not seem fair to pull them when so happy!

I have a rescue Chihuahua who was left abandoned in an apartment in CA  with her sister, for two weeks before Animal Control found them. She was emaciated and near death and brought to a kill shelter for humane euthanasia. She was pulled at the last minute by a rescue organization (She was not even a year old!) and flown to CT.

2019 Board Updates

IWRC's annual board and officer elections are complete. Breakdown of the results:

 

Member Election Results

Jayanthi Kallam *new board member

Pat Latas *new board member

Dani Nicholson (reelected)

Board Appointed Individuals

Deborah Galle *new board member

Kristen Heitman (reelected)

Mandy Kamps (reelected)

Ashraf NVK (reelected)

Officer Positions

Adam Grogan has moved from his previous post as to president-elect to President and Sue Wylie our previous president has left the board after serving her full time allotment.

Our other officer positions remain the same as 2018 with Mandy Kamps - vice-president, Kristen Heitman - secretary, Dani Nicholson - treasurer.

 

Meet all our 2019 full board of directors

Words from Pat Latas DVM – IWRC’s newest board member!

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship with wildlife.  

I’m not sure that there was one experience, I was involved with the natural world from my first memories and before--there is a family photo of me in diapers bent over watching some ants...I suppose the moment I was old enough to recognize another being, looking at and evaluating me as an equal, was when a one-footed crow came to visit our backyard over several years. Who knows how it came about, but my family called him Jack, and he came to recognize his name and often brought friends to visit. As a child, I did not know he was “just a crow”.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?  

In the late 80s and early 90s, only a few years out of vet school, I had the fortune to drop into a position that allowed me to serve as a wildlife veterinarian at an active and progressive wildlife rehabilitation organization. As a field biologist by training, prior to vet school, it was a hole in my professional life that was filled. At the time, I was very concerned about reptile and amphibian standards of care, welfare and rehabilitation methods. IWRC shared the same concerns and was responsive to ideas and suggestions. I was very impressed, and still am. My goal is to participate at board-level in advancing the course and mission of IWRC, to bring my skills and experience to be utilized for the intelligent and scientific advancement of the health, welfare, and well-being of all wildlife in human care.

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

Rescue, rehabilitation and release of wild psittacines and passerines, are of intense interest to me. However, the consequences of anthropogenic damage to habitats, entire ecosystems; the impact of animal trafficking on population status, health, welfare and well-being on individuals, flocks, and of all wildlife and flora requires urgent attention from all of us, regardless of specific interest. Wildlife rehabilitators act as first-responders in this global crisis, and I am dedicated to helping foster data collection, progressive and modern techniques, bridging gaps with other disciplines.

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

MacGyvering skills (both physical and intellectual) have been of great value, when added to professional and technical training.

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

Bringing awareness of cruelty to wildlife and avians to the professional animal cruelty community.

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?  

So many people to choose from, and I submit two: Dr. Sylvia Earle and my 3rd-grade teacher, Miss Clothier.

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?

I would study terrestrial crabs.

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

I would probably be a wild Rosy-faced Lovebird, screaming in the desert. Bossy, matriarchal, loud, obnoxious, stubborn and passionate in defense of friends, family, and conceptual philosophy. I aspire to be other beings but that is likely the truthful representation. I would like to be a sweet, lovely kakapo; but….

What is the thing for which you have waited in line the longest?

I waited more than 5 years to be selected as a nest-minding volunteer for the Kakapo Recovery Team in New Zealand.

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

Working with wild psittacine issues of any sort. Planning about how to ameliorate the lack of interest and public knowledge of cruelty to urban wildlife. Thinking about the impact of natural and anthropogenic disasters on rehabbers, rehabilitation facilities, animal and plant populations and ecosystems, and what my personal role can be to greatest effect.

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

An intense, serious, older wild-caught Timneh African Grey Parrot, about whose life I wonder and I shudder to think of his experiences from a captured and abused chick, through his adulthood in captivity, and various owners. He now is released from slavery and owns himself.

A middle-aged Congo African Grey Parrot, beautiful and sweet. He knows nothing of the wild except what is in his genes.

A middle-aged Lineolated Parakeet, whose grandparents were illegally trafficked into the USA, inbred, and sold as objects.
An intelligent, demanding and personable Blue-crowned Conure.

All of them, and the many birds that have shared my home were the result of confiscation, re-homing, abandonment, relinquishment due to poor health resulting from captivity, adopted from poor conditions, poverty, lack of veterinary funds, ignorance. I wish that each and everyone one of them had been allowed to flourish as the member of a wild flock and unmolested for their natural lifespan. I am dedicated to seeing that this dream will come true for all wildlife.

Tidbits from board member – Brooke Durham

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.  

I grew up in Eastern Kentucky. When I was about 10 years old my grandfather found a pair of (almost) fledgling Eastern Screech Owl chicks at the family lake house in the spring, when he arrived to get things in order for the upcoming summer. He brought them to me and instructed me to feed them for a few days until they were strong enough to fly into in the forest that surrounded my childhood home. I’ll never forget the sound they made when I opened the box to peek in; that screech seemed to terrify everyone - except me. In a few days’ time, they were off on their own and I was hooked, or “taloned”?

 

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?  

Early in my wildlife rehab volunteer days I joined IWRC so that I could access the reduced fee on their online classes for Pain Management, Wound Management, Fluid Therapy as well as published materials and eventually the Basic Wildlife Rehab Course. IWRC has always exemplified the profession of wildlife rehabilitation to me, and I’m honored to help serve the membership as a board member so that they can access the same resources for the benefit of the animals we serve.

 

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

There are certainly members of the board and membership that have more in-depth knowledge of the medical and biological aspects of wildlife rehab than I do. There was a time when I believed those would be my strongest assets in this field, but when the opportunity-task of setting up and administering my own organization presented itself, I set about learning all I could to ensure its success. That determination led me to pursue a comprehensive Nonprofit Management Certificate through the University of San Diego. I’ve learned so very much about the governance of a nonprofit through that program, and combined with my experience as a wildlife rehab volunteer and involvement with unrelated professional organizations as a committee member - I think I come with strong, broad foundation of knowledge to work from.

As for a particular passion; I have experienced so many periods in my wildlife rehab career where I felt isolated and alone, where I saw the obvious effects of inter-agency and even inter-personal failures to communicate and cooperate that left the wildlife patients on the losing end. This, in turn leads to a high rate of rehabber burn-out. I really feel it is my purpose to foster better communication, understanding and cooperation between all involved. It’s all about collaboration!

 

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

My background in art has come in handy when I’m explaining a new enclosure design to my husband. He works in construction so we make a good team.

 

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?  

A difficult choice between sweet, calm but utterly relentless Jane Goodall and charming, wild and equally determined Steve Irwin. Either way – it would be a “wildlife warrior”.

 

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

Flamingo – the strutting, dancing and the fabulous plumage make this an easy choice for me.

 

What is the thing for which you have waited in line the longest?

1987 University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Midnight Madness when I was about 11 years old. I was a gymnast/cheerleader at the time and while our moms held our place in line a group of my friends and I found a patch of grass to tumble and stunt to occupy the hours of time in line. While tumbling I (just slightly) dislocated my elbow, but when I felt it and grabbed my arm, I popped it right back into place. Nonetheless - we went to ER got an x-ray, ice pack and a sling and got back in line in time to enter and enjoy the night. A close 2nd would be standing 1st in line for Janet Jackson concert tickets.

 

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

Any wildlife “release day”, though it’s usually an even mix of anxiety and excitement.

 

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

English Bulldog – Krystal

French Bulldog – Romeo

A blind French Bulldog/Boston Terrier (puppy mill rescue) – Poppy

2 Goats – Luke & Sombra + an assortment of chickens & domestic ducks

California Desert Tortoise – Jean-Louis Agassiz

About 50 Koi + 10 Red-eared Slider turtles

Umbrella Cockatoo who has refused all names we’ve offered except for “Cockatoo”

European Starling – Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)

Yellow-naped Amazon (parrot) – Slider

Lilac-crowned Amazon (parrot) – Hilo

Green-cheeked Amazon (parrot) – Cali

2 Red-masked Conure (parakeets) – Nene & Conner

2 Blind Green-cheeked Amazon (parrots) – Justice & Stevie (because: Justice is blind, and Stevie Wonder)

 

Also, our rehab facility is on my home property so at any given time there could be just about any kind of animal - in any kind of crate - in any room or area of the house. Neonate baby birds in portable brooders go on the nightstand beside my bed so that I can monitor them during the night and administer their first hydration in the early morning. I literally live in a zoo.

 

Tidbits from board member – Suzanne Pugh

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.  

As a child there were so many stories and story books my mom shared with me, Tarka the Otter, Watership Down, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, not to mention the bedtime stories my mother made up! However, there was a brilliant service hosted by the British Post Office, that cemented my love of animals. It was a weekly children's bedtime story read by Johnny Morris, a television and radio presenter for the BBC and a great story teller. Morris narrated many animal related stories including Tales of the Riverbank – about an assorted collection of animal friends and each week a different animal story could only be heard by telephone. I loved sitting with my mom, dad and sister each Sunday night waiting for the time to dial “150” and listening to these exciting tales.

 

Suzanne and Darren at Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii, 2017.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?  

Back in 2004 I was volunteering on a committee to investigate the potential for a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Kelowna, BC. I became aware of IWRC through this network and subsequently attended a Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation course. Since then I have remained an IWRC member since that time and in the following years attended conferences and completed additional training workshops through IWRC.  I went on to lead the BC SPCA Kelowna animal shelter for 5 years, where wildlife intake rose year on year and aware of the limited resources available for wildlife, I was driven to join the board of directors to further the cause.

 

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

Avian – So few resources are available for the care, rehabilitation and release of wild birds and public education and awareness is key particularly to support the issues faced during baby bird season. More skilled professionals are required who are proficient in identifying species to provide triage and treatment to injured birds, who are candidates for rehab and release.

 

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

During my time as Branch Manager, BC SPCA Kelowna, I was responsible for the health and welfare of almost 8000 animals – farm, domestic and wildlife. I remain immensely proud of this work.

 

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?  

So many –Sir David Attenborough leaps to mind but if I had to choose just one it would be The Dalai Lama. He once said something that rings true for me for all sentient beings - “Our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

 

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?   

Without a doubt it would be animal related. I enjoy working closely with people and animals and would like to help bridge gaps to improve welfare for working animals around the globe, particularly donkeys, to support efforts to help communities who rely on these animals as a mode of transport and to provide resources to raise donkey welfare standards, in turn supporting the owner’s livelihood. Alternatively, I would like to support communities who rely on livestock within wildlife habitats, to collaborate on solutions to reducing wildlife conflict and finding ways to co-exist.

 

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

An Orangutan

 

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

Daisy and Ted

My husband and I are guardians to 2 Labrador dogs. Both are adopted and are both on their 3rd and permanent home with us. Daisy, a black lab, is now 15+ years and Ted our chocolate lab is 10yrs, going on 2! Daisy has been with us since she was 18 months and has hiked, biked and camped across North America. She has always amazed us, whenever we reached the top of a mountain during a hike she would appear to sit at the top and gaze intently out across the vista. Daisy is now relaxing in her senior years. However, for Ted, every day he wakes - life is one big party! He brings lots of fun to our household, we have many “Ted-ventures” and we wouldn’t change either of them for the world.

2018 Board Changes

IWRC's annual board and officer elections are complete. Breakdown of the results:

 

Member Election Results

Lloyd Brown (reelected)

Brooke Durham *new board member

Laurin Huse (reelected)

Board Appointed Individuals

Shathi Govender *new board member

Adam Grogan (reelected)

Suzanne Pugh *new board member

Officer Positions

Mandy Kamps is our newly elected vice-president.

Adam Grogan has moved from his previous post as vice-president to president-elect.

Our other officer positions remain the same as 2017 with Sue Wylie - president, Kristen Heitman - secretary, Dani Nicholson - treasurer.

 

Meet all our 2018 full board of directors

Tidbits from board member Brenda Harms

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.  

My mother always tried to save the birds our cat caught (this was back in the stone age).  She’d feed them white bread soaked in milk and keep them in a shoebox (well, at least she got the shoebox right!).  Not a single one ever survived and she cried every time one would die.  I learned from her that humans are responsible for the creatures in our midst, and we need to try our hardest to do right by them.  My mother would have become a wildlife rehabber if the opportunity had been available and then, perhaps, some of those birds would have survived.   

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?  

I’ve always been involved with the nonprofits in the town I live in.  Once my children got older, I became interested in learning more about nonprofit governance and fundraising and even took some fundraising classes.  When my teenage daughter saw a Dawn commercial that featured Tri State Bird Rescue, I found myself traveling to Delaware with her to take Tri State’s oiled bird course.  It was there that I first met people who were wildlife rehabbers.  An internet search led me to IWRC’s Virginia Beach Symposium in 2009.  At a symposium roundtable, I shared my desire to combine my law degree and interests in nonprofits with my love for wildlife, and before I could say “Jack Rabbit,” I was on the board.  I became Secretary of the board the following year.  My seven years on the board have been immensely fulfilling.

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

Volunteering at our local rehabilitation hospital, I’ve discovered that very few people know how to defrost a refrigerator/freezer quickly and thoroughly.

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?  

I’d love to be mentored by Dr. Jane Goodall for the sole purpose of learning how to be so brave.   Her leap from vision to execution and on to perseverance fills me with awe.  

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?   

I’m the only board member who isn’t a wildlife rehabber (I’m a lawyer), so I hope that one day I’ll actually become one.  

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

Oh, I’d have to be an Osprey.  Watching them and wanting to protect them was the reason I became involved with wildlife preservation in the first place. I’d summer in New England and winter in Rio!